- people would stand for ~3 hours at a play, but sermons at church were 5-6 hours
- Miraculously, this church survived the incessant bombing of London during WWII.
- His mom was among the children sent away from London at the time. She was sent to live with strangers on a farm in Wales. She, consequently, didn't see her father (who was a spy) for five and a half years.
...The Actual Good Part of This Disjointed Post: THE GLOBE THEATRE
At the Globe, they try to do shows accurate to how they would have been done in the 1600s. This means, no microphones, no sets, no lighting, etc. Shows are performed at 2 in the afternoon to utilize the daylight of the open theatre. There is a "pit" in front of the stage where approximately 600 people stand throughout the show. The stalls hold about 1000 more, I think. Getting to go on the stage and the balcony was a really remarkable experience not only because it makes a good story, but also because you could see the faces of everyone in the seats. It really became clear why Shakespeare is written as it is. Shakespeare was not writing plays to be performed with a fourth wall and elaborate scenery. Rather, he was writing plays that constantly referenced the absurdity of running around a stage pretending to be people from far off eras and places. Every soliloquy could be done to specific audience members rather than the audience in general, making them much more personal and involving. It is one thing to observe someone talking to an exit sign and quite another to see them actually make a human connection with another person. The Globe space offers that opportunity for human connection in a way that modern theatres with their dimmable lights and prosceniums cannot.
A lot of what Nick talked about while we were there was how people today think that they can outsmart Shakespeare by changing the time period in which it is set and adding a bunch of superfluous set dressing or spectacle to the works. That has its time and place. He speaks highly of Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream done with trapezes and credits it with changing the way the world views the versatility of Shakespeare, however, he does not think that the Globe is the place to try such experiments. Even small level experiments have backfired on productions. For instance, they added a catwalk through the pit for a production. This added a new manner of entrance for the actors instead of having everyone enter from upstage. Unfortunately, it was a record-breakingly rainy summer, and the catwalk went straight through the area of the theatre open to the sky. One actress who frequently crossed that bridge developed trench foot from all the rain! The stage, however, remains covered by a small roof and completely dry. Shakespeare clearly knew what he was doing in that theatre and always kept his actors under cover (and for good reason!).
I could go on and on. We learned SO much. Other little fun facts include:
- The balcony, which also has space for musicians and the occasional Juliet, hosts two boxes for the wealthiest people in attendance. Money earns you terrible seats to the show, but phenomenal seats at which the entire rest of the audience can see how fabulous you are.
- The second most rich people would buy tickets in these painted boxes on the second tier of the audience. These boxes were richly painted with mythological creatures and scenes.
- I'm not familiar with 100% of Shakespeare's cannon but apparently there are instances in which someone is winched up to heaven or dropped down to hell. We got to catch small glimpses of the mechanics and trap doors used for such "special effects."
- Usually the uneducated stood in the pit in front of the stage, while the educated sat in the wooden stalls above. So, when an actor made a particularly intellectual joke or comment, he would direct it at the audience in the stalls. This is the origin of the phrase "go right over their heads" because the comments would literally go unnoticed by the people below.
- The Globe will soon need to redo the floor of the pit because when it rains, it drops off the roof and erodes the cement (Shakespeare's real Globe had a dirt floor). Anyhow, the roof is the "eaves" and the water "drops" off the roof. The word eavesdropping comes from this phenomenon, although he never really explained what that has to do with listening in on other people's conversations.
- The Globe has a new indoor theatre for use in the winter when it becomes impractical, cold, and gross to host shows outside in the elements. This theatre, while slightly more modern, also tries to conform to some sense of historical accuracy and is completely lit by candles.
- By the way, plays began to have intermissions and scene breaks when they moved indoors because at some point the audience needed to be evacuated so that the candles could be replaced. The lighting technology, or lack thereof, literally changed the way plays are written.
I am sure I am leaving out a LOT. If you made it to the end of this insanely long post, thank you. Please feel free to ask questions if I forgot to address something (which I definitely did). I won't claim to be an expert, but I tried my best to be a sponge for these few hours.